Shopping For a New Religion

10/17/2012

Religiously speaking, I’ve been around the block a time or two and have been in and out of every church, temple or mosque within driving distance from my home.  After all my experiences, I’m still looking for the perfect religion.  Needless to say, I didn’t find God attending any of their services.

I jotted down a few notes relating to each religion which you may or may not be able to relate to, as follows:

Islam

I loved the music of Cat Stevens, especially “Peace Train.”  If he could be a Muslim, then why not me?  Being a peaceful person, though, I found that I couldn’t reconcile with the fact that Muslims shoot 14 year-old girls(for promoting education for girls), or their honor killings.  I ask you, when can a killing be for the sake of honor anyway?

Burning Question: Did Mohammed have a real vision (referred to as the miraj in Islamic tradition) or was it simply a desert mirage?

Besides:  I could never learn enough Arabic to be able to pray the way that Islam demands.

Buddhism

I like it that Buddhists sit on a mountain top to gain enlightenment and become spiritual.  I’m also impressed that they wouldn’t harm a fly (literally), but then I could never live in a house full of flies.

Burning Question: I wonder, though, just how spiritual they would be if they had to come down off their mountaintop into the real world and then get caught in a serious traffic jam, say in Bombay?

Besides: I had always heard that they were non-violent, which appealed to me, but I later found out that they have an expression, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

Catholicism

Love the setting: the young cherub-faced altar boys looking perfectly angelic, all the candles and the choir.  The priests seemed to have an air of invincibility about them.  I really wanted to participate more in the services, but the masses were in Latin.  I guess they didn’t want us to know that it’s really a pagan religion.

Burning Question: Is the Pope really infallible?

Besides: I don’t like praying to the mother of the messiah; I should be good enough to pray directly to God.

Christianity

I thought the disciples were pretty cool (something on the order of the Three Musketeers).  But it was like the old heavy-metal bands; underneath all the make-up were some totally grotesque figures.  In the end, I couldn’t relate to a bunch of illiterates.  I know what you’re going to say, that I’m just intellectually arrogant and blah, blah, blah.  Okay, you’re absolutely right, but I just can’t wrap my arms, and mind, around a religion whose teachings even the disciples couldn’t understand (at least that’s what the Bible stories said).  To tell you the truth, I liked the religious scriptures that were left out of the Bible(like, say, the Gospel of Judas) better than the ones that were included.

Burning Question: Did the disciples really see Jesus after the Resurrection?  After all, how could they not recognize him?

Besides: Isn’t a messiah important enough to deserve their own special days?  For example, why is Christ’s birthday celebrated on a pagan holiday?  For that matter, why is the resurrection commemorated on a pagan holiday(Easter)?

Today, I’m in between religions. However, there’s a Baha’i temple not to far away that I just might check out soon.  It would be nice, though, if I could find a religion that would pay me to attend, rather than the other way around.  Maybe the local 7- Eleven store could have religious in-store videos, or something like that.  That way even the homeless people would be able to have their own house of God.

Last Question: So, tell me, why do I need religion at all?

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20 Responses to “Shopping For a New Religion”

  1. When did you go to the Catholic Church, in the 50’s? Mass is in the vernacular now, and the prayers are to God and Jesus, not Mary. Sorry, had to say it. Ok, have you ever heard of the Perennial Philosophy by Huxely? You might like it. He studied all the religions and found that they are basically saying the same thing. Behind this constantly changing universe there is a single unchanging personality. I’ll call it God. At the core of every human is the same unchanging God. Our mission in life is to get in touch with the core, with God. Religion is how you choose to do that. My priest likes to say that each religion is a road. All of them go to the same place, God. Some of the roads very winding and might not be paved, making the journey rough and easy to get lost, while others are six lane super highways that can get you there pretty quick. Hope you find the road that works for you, good journey!

    • chicagoja said

      Excellent comments. Huxley of course was right. However, the problem is that religion generally teaches us how to be different, rather than come together. In some cultures, people have very little choice with respect to their religion. Even if you are able to choose your religion, religious dogma dictates how you should express your faith. For example, all religions define God differently and Islam and Christianity have different messiahs. The rules about the after-life and salvation are typically different. Islam preaches that they are a combination of Judaism and Christianity, yet they want to kill the non-believers (Jews and Christians alike), and so it goes. Yes, all religions lead to God (the one and only God) and yet they all insist that they, and only they, know God and that salvation is through their church. What none of them will tell you is that man has a divine right to have a relationship with God, a relationship that doesn’t require the church.

      • Lee said

        I would simply say: Don’t judge a religion by its fundamentalists. All religions have ’em. But a religion is greater than its fundamentalists.

        If, for any given religion, you move along the spectrum from the fundamentalist end through the mainstream middle toward the mystical end, you’ll find that the religion becomes more intelligent, less exclusive, and more universal as you go.

        Lots of folks seem to need the simple black-and-whites of fundamentalism to keep them on the strait and narrow.

        But for those who can think in shades of grey, or even better, in full color, the various religions of the world have that to offer as you move toward the other end of their spectrum.

        One of the characteristics of a world religion is that it covers all the bases of where people are intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. That means each one has fascists, conservatives, liberals, and libertarians–or fundamentalists, mainstream types, and mystics, depending which spectrum you use.

  2. Excellent discussion. And thank you for visiting Frank’s Cottage. After reading this post, I see that what I’m doing on Frank’s Cottage is meant especially for folks like you – mature, intelligent, open-minded seekers.

  3. revdrdan said

    Great post! Very thoughtful and well done.

    In my early conservative Christian days (Pentecostalism), I saw religion as my ticket to sweet seats in the after life–and Pentecostalism was the only elevator out of hell. Much later in my life, and now identifying as a Religious Humanist within Unitarian Universalism, I now see religion as more of a meaning-making vehicle for my life.

  4. Lux Ferous said

    “Being a peaceful person, though, I found that I couldn’t reconcile with the fact that Muslims shoot 14 year-old girls(for promoting education for girls), or their honor killings. I ask you, when can a killing be for the sake of honor anyway?

    Burning Question: Did Mohammed have a real vision (referred to as the miraj in Islamic tradition) or was it simply a desert mirage?

    Besides: I could never learn enough Arabic to be able to pray the way that Islam demands.”

    Akk. come on. You seem to know so much about religion, but I’m surprised on your lightning quick dismissal. Islam condemns honor killings and specifically promotes female education (muslim sources unambiguously say this). The honor killings and stuff that happen in certain areas of the muslim world are stupid cultural things, there are large numbers of these honor killings occurring by non muslims within that region.

    • chicagoja said

      That’s exactly my point about religion generally. Great words on a piece of paper, but the actions don’t necessarily match the words. Instead, what comes out is stupid cultural things (as you called it). That’s why the Religion of Peace and the Religion of Love have been trying to exterminate each other for the better part of 2,000 years.

      • Lux Ferous said

        Then how do these cultural phenomenons justify your arguments against these religions? Those cultural elements would have existed whether or not the religions did. Religion does not set out to make everyone perfect – the entire point is a striving of moral goodness and a test of moral goodness for humanity: some will pass, some will fail. The people that follow the cultural things you have mentioned in criticizing Islam are the ones who will fail, and thus don’t constitute your criticism.

      • chicagoja said

        Good point, but would the Crusades have happened if there were no Christianity?

      • Lux Ferous said

        No, but something would have. The cultural rivalry peaked at that point anyways, and the Crusaders weren’t what we’d call “religious” (they slaughtered everyone in every church in Jerusalem for no reason at all, for example). And that still doesn’t justify your honor killings argument.

      • chicagoja said

        People will be people, with or without religion, just as you said. However, when violent acts are done under the cover of religion and society lets it slide, it justifies that action. Yes, it’s cultural but then ultimately so too is religion since culture is man’s way of expressing himself and religion is man’s way of relating to the Divine. Institutions are not responsible for crimes against humanity, people are. People invent the institutions and they invent the religious dogma. As a result, more people have been killed in wars, using the name of God,than for any other reason.

      • Lux Ferous said

        I guess you could refer to religion as a cultural embodiment in that sense. But don’t tell me revelation allows this, or that the theologians of that religion would condone such a thing.

      • chicagoja said

        Theologians are mortal men who, by their own dogma, are flawed. Thus they brought us such atrocities as The Albigensian Crusade, The Inquisition, the Jesuits
        brutal colonization of South America and the sex scandals of the modern day Catholic Church, just to name a few.

      • Lux Ferous said

        Right. christian theologians…they’re a bit…um….different…..
        I think you know what I mean.

      • chicagoja said

        I couldn’t agree with you more. I grew up in the Christian Church and all it ever did for me was to stifle my thinking. By the way, congrats on having read as many of my posts as you have. I’m curious as to why you’ve read so many.

      • Lux Ferous said

        yep. And there’s no respect for the actual “perceived” biblical truth. Just politics and blabber on gay marriage.

      • chicagoja said

        what else did you expect from the establishment?

  5. Lux Ferous said

    “What none of them will tell you is that man has a divine right to have a relationship with God, a relationship that doesn’t require the church.”

    What the hell does this mean? Apart from some forms of Christianity, most worldviews don’t require an intercessor between you and God. And there’s only going to be on e truth , right? So religions claim to be that truth. And at least in Islamic understanding, you don’t need Islam to find God. That’s only the best way…

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